Archive | August, 2009

Charity Reports Big Rise In Prostitution

31 Aug

By J. P. Anderson:

Ireland’s underground sex industry is being fuelled by technology as vulnerable young women are forced to work as prostitutes from apartments, Ruhama said today.

The charity said it is harder to reach victims of the sex trade as criminals hold them captive in flats and houses all over the country.

Over the last two years 341 vulnerable women who have been forced into prostitution have been supported by Ruhama. Volunteers believe that number is just the tip of the iceberg, with hundreds more trapped in covert underground operations.

Director of Ruhama Kathleen Fahy said ten years ago prostitution was very visible on the streets of Dublin.

“Today we are dealing with a predominantly indoor and more covert sex trade,” said Ms Fahy. “Many women involved in prostitution are controlled by criminals. They are beaten, afraid and see no way out. These criminals now operate in a hidden world and use modern technology to control and market the women.”

In its biennial report for 2007-2008, Ruhama revealed 100 women it helped were victims of trafficking, the majority from Nigeria. Six of those were aged under 18 years when they were brought in to Ireland and forced to have sex with men.

Ms Fahy said women were often tricked with promises of legitimate work or college places and then handed over to criminals and cut off from others. Young girls in HSE care are also being targeted.

Ruhama said more than half of those helped were hidden behind closed doors and advertised on the internet and via mobile phones. Ms Fahy said this technology is allowing organisers of the sex trade to operate undercover.

“Trafficking is happening all over Ireland,” she continued. “People are brought in, not just to Dublin but other towns as well, and women are being held in captivity for anything from months up to two years before they are rescued.

“They are given a mobile phone and told they have to have sex with up to ten or 12 men a day in order to repay debts that have been supposedly incurred on their behalf bringing them into the country,” she said. “Many are operating out of private apartments and have no contact with anybody on the outside.”

While legislation to target traffickers was introduced last year, so far nobody has faced criminal charges.

But Ms Fahy stressed that without demand there would be little need for the lucrative business.

“The domestic market here has grown enormously over the last decade,” she added. “As long as there are users and willing buyers, there will be people willing to traffic women in to meet demand.”

Ruhama, which this year marks its 20th anniversary, has supported more than 2,000 women, many of whom have ended their link to prostitution. It runs a range of programmes which include personal development, life skills, counselling, accommodation provision and education.

Ruhama also provides ongoing assistance to victims of sex trafficking including crisis accommodation, befriending, advocacy, accompaniment and repatriation.


Dublin Port High Court Injunction Against Workers Extended For Six Weeks

31 Aug

By J. P. Anderson:

Talks will take place at the Labour Relations Commission today between SIPTU representatives and management at Marine Terminals.

The talks are aimed at resolving a dispute at Dublin Port which is now in its ninth week.

The row centres on redundancies and cuts in pay and conditions.

Meanwhile, the Dublin Port Company has secured an interlocutory injunction against a blockade relating to a dispute involving Marine Terminals Limited.

The Port Company had secured an interim injunction on Friday.

Mr Justice Kevin Feeney said the terms of the interim injunction would apply to the interlocutory injunction.

The case will come before the court again in six weeks.

In a statement last Friday, Dublin Port Company said it had obtained a High Court injunction ‘to stop the irresponsible and dangerous actions in the attempt to blockade the port’s navigational channel yesterday’.

‘The actions which constituted dangerous illegal secondary picketing attempted to involve Dublin Port Company and other port customers in a dispute which they are not party to.’

An interlocutory injunction is issued during a trial to maintain the status quo until the trial is over.

Two well respected elderly men (OAPs) Mr Jerry Brannock Snr and Mr Edward Byrne were named in the injunction and brought before the high court in Dublin.

(See photo album).

New Drug Will Replace Warfarin To Prevent Strokes Claim

31 Aug

By J. P. Anderson:

A NEW drug to help prevent strokes could replace the widely used warfarin treatment as it is far safer and more effective, it has been claimed.

Results from a major trial, published yesterday, reveal a new drug, Pradaxa, could prevent thousands of strokes and stroke-related deaths daily.

The trial, the largest of its kind, found that Pradaxa was 34% better at reducing the risk of stroke and blood clots in at-risk patients than warfarin. Death rates were down 15% when patients were given the drug. More than 18,000 patients from 44 countries took part in the three-year trial.

Irish cardiologist Dr Peter Crean said the results had exceeded expectations: "We now have an oral treatment which offers superior protection from stroke with less bleeding and without the need for regular blood monitoring [as with warfarin] which is a significant burden to patients, GPs and hospitals."

Dr Adrian Brady, consultant cardiologist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said it’s "the greatest step forward in anticoagulation (anti-clotting) therapy for over 50 years. “The results presented today could mean the end of warfarin, known by many as rat poison, for many patients – no more anticoagulation clinics, no more blood tests, no more watching what you need to eat and drink."

Worldwide, it is estimated that 3,000 strokes a day could be prevented if AF (atrial fibrillation) patients were given Pradaxa instead of warfarin. The drug is only licensed in Britain for orthopaedic patients at risk of clotting after surgery. An application to use it for stroke prevention is pending.

The findings were presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Barcelona, and published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Women’s Lobby Revolts Against Child Benefit Cuts

31 Aug

By J. P. Anderson:

A PUBLIC campaign to fight the Government’s plans to cut child benefit is to be escalated by the lobby representing 300,000 women.

The revolt by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) will pile pressure on the Government after it meets tomorrow to consider the contents of the Commission on Taxation’s report.

The NWCI said it has had enough of the budgetary policy which it believes has hit women and children the hardest. It has organised a public meeting to channel the emotions of its members and organise a campaign before the budget is worked out in detail.

The NWCI meeting will take place in Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin on Tuesday, September 8 at 7.30pm. This is just days before the various government departments are expected to tell the Department of Finance how much of the Bord Snip Nua report can be enacted.

In the meantime, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan will begin deciding which of the Commission on Taxation’s recommendations will be in his December budget.

And later today Mr Lenihan will appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee to face a grilling on NAMA. This will allow opposition parties an opportunity to scrutinise the draft NAMA bill before it is finalised and the valuation exercise is set down.

However, the Government has to be mindful of the effect proposed cuts will have as it seeks savings to pay for the NAMA project.

Today, the End Child Poverty Coalition rows into the debate by launching its pre-budget submission. It demands a stop be put on cuts to welfare, child benefit, education and children’s services. The coalition’s spokesman John-Mark McCafferty said vulnerable families had already been worst hit by the recession.

NWCI director of policy Orla O’Connor said, as leaks of the Commission on Taxation report began to emerge, it was bombarded by concerned members. It decided to begin the campaign under the banner, Women Saying No Going Back. This will argue that, not alone can suggested child benefit cuts be absorbed, but earlier measures should be reversed. "We could see from the phones more and more women were angry at what was coming and they also feel the cuts in the other budgets should not have happened.

"The meeting is trying to get our members together to do something about it before it is just announced in the budget," she said.

Gender issues have already been prominent in the unravelling of the Government majority after female-specific health policies caused the defection of three FF TDs.

Ms O’Connor said they have become even more painful as unemployment trends shifted from construction to the retail and services sectors.

"In 2008 it was more men losing their jobs in construction, but now there are families where two parents are out of work and child benefit might be the only way of providing for their children," she said.

The NWCI is the first prominent plank in the community and voluntary pillar of social partnership to begin a public rally against the changes proposed by Bord Snip Nua and the Commission on Taxation.

Study Warns Against Routine Use Of Aspirin

31 Aug

By J. P. Anderson:

Healthy people taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks could be doing themselves more harm than good, experts have concluded.

The routine use for the prevention of vascular problems “cannot be supported”, UK professors from the Aspirin for Asymptomatic Atherosclerosis (AAA) concluded.

Professor Peter Weissberg, of the British Heart Foundation which part-funded the research, said: “We know that patients with symptoms of artery disease, such as angina, heart attack or stroke, can reduce their risk of further problems by taking a small dose of aspirin each day.

“The findings of this study agree with our current advice that people who do not have symptomatic or diagnosed artery or heart disease should not take aspirin, because the risks of bleeding may outweigh the benefits.”

Reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems had to be set against the increased risk of internal bleeding, the study said.

In patients who have already had a heart attack, the risk of a second is so much higher that the balance is in favour of taking aspirin, Professor Gerry Fowkes, from the Wolfson Unit for Prevention of Peripheral Vascular Diseases in Edinburgh, added.

He wrote: “The benefits of antiplatelet therapy in the prevention of future cardio and cerebrovascular events is well established in patients with a clinical history of arterial vascular disease – however, evidence in primary prevention is limited, with studies suggesting that any benefit of aspirin must be weighed against the risk of bleeding.”

The study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona, recruited 28,980 men and women aged 50 to 75 years who were free of clinically evident cardiovascular disease in central Scotland.

Prof Fowkes added: “It is possible that in the general population, aspirin could produce a smaller reduction in vascular events than this trial was designed to detect, but it is questionable whether such an effect, together with aspirin related morbidity, would justify the additional resources and health care requirements of an ABI (ankle brachial index) screening programme.”

The aim of the trial was to determine the effectiveness of aspirin in preventing events in people with asymptomatic atherosclerosis.

Those entered into the trial were given either a once daily 100 mg aspirin or a placebo.

Major bleeding requiring admission to hospital occurred in 34 (2%) of subjects in the aspirin group and 20 (1.2%) of the placebo group.

Commenting on the results, Professor Fowkes said: “Although the AAA trial was not of screening per se, the results would suggest that using the ABI as a tool to screen individuals free of cardiovascular disease in the community is unlikely to be beneficial if aspirin is the intervention to be used in those found to be at higher risk.

“Other more potent antiplatelets might be considered, but only if increased effectiveness in avoiding ischaemic events is not matched by increased bleeding.”

UK: Immigration Centres Holding 470 Children: Report

31 Aug

By J. P. Anderson:

More than 400 children were being held in immigration detention centres with their families, a report said Monday, citing official figures.

The Guardian newspaper said 470 children, many from countries suffering poverty and conflict such as

Zimbabwe, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Democratic Republic of Congo, were locked up after arriving in Britain.

The figures from the

Home Office were provided for a single day, on June 30 this year.

Most of the children were aged under five, and almost one third were held for longer than 28 days, the newspaper said.

Out of 225 children released from detention in the second quarter of this year, only 100 were then removed from Britain.

Critics quoted by the left-of-centre daily said the statistics showed the UK Border Agency was failing in its duty to detain children only "as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time."

The Home Office said: "The UK Border Agency fully recognises its responsibilities towards children but these responsibilities have to be exercised alongside our duty to enforce the laws on immigration and asylum."


A Home Office report disclosed that 470 children entered detention facilities in the first half of 2009.

According to the Guardian, many came from trouble-spots including

Zimbabwe, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The figures are thought to be the first to be published regarding children in detention centres, following lobbying by campaigners.

They showed that almost a third of children had been kept for more than 28 days, meaning they must have been authorised by a Government minister.

And, out of 225 children released from detention in the second quarter of 2009, only 100 were removed from the UK – suggesting they had been locked up unnecessarily.

Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the Children’s Commissioner for England, told The Guardian: "If they were allowed to stay at the end of their release, why did they have to go through the detention process in the first place?"

Lisa Nandy, policy adviser at The Children’s Society, said: "The Home Office has taken a step in the right direction by releasing this statistical information, as, unbelievably, proper data on the number of children entering and leaving immigration detention has until now not been officially released.

"These children have therefore been hidden in an inhumane system which holds them without time limit in prison-like conditions.

"The statistics do however reveal the scandalous extent of the detention of children for immigration purposes, and confirm our deep concerns about the way children are being detained."

UK: New “Booze ASBOs” To Target Alcohol-Fuelled Crime

31 Aug

By J. P. Anderson:

New "booze Asbos" designed to punish drinkers for alcohol-fuelled crime and anti-social behaviour have been criticised as a "gimmick".

Police and local authorities will be able to use drinking banning orders (BDOs) to protect the public from further drink-related offences.

Magistrates will then use the orders to impose conditions on individual people – such as banning them from drinking in, or visiting, certain places.

Anyone who breaches their BDO could face a fine of up to £2,500.

But civil liberties campaigners said the new orders failed to tackle the causes of offending.

Isabella Sankey, director of policy for Liberty, said: "This new gimmick gives gimmicks a bad name.

"How many times can you recycle the broad powers in the ASBOs first created 11 years ago?

"How many times can you spin a new ‘crackdown’ without tackling the causes of offending behaviour?

"It will be Jelly Bean Asbos for sugared-up kids next. Surely its time to call last orders on endless new legislation."

Metropolitan Police Commander Simon O’Brien, who speaks for the Association of Chief Police Officers on alcohol licensing, defended the orders.

He said "these powers add to the toolbox of tactics" used by police in tackling drunken and persistent offenders.

Cmdr O’Brien added: "Dealing with the complex issues around alcohol requires a genuinely end-to-end approach.

"Alongside enforcement, equally vital is the responsibility, shared by the industry and Government, to address the culture of alcohol misuse and so deal with the root causes of the problem."

The orders can last for up to two years, although offenders can have them shortened by completing a "positive behaviour intervention course".